A tale of artists, intrigue, and the magical renaissance

7.04 – Omnes Regere Vult in Mundo {Everybody Wants to Rule the World}

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Even though the mountaintop wasn’t cold at all, Elena felt as if she should shiver. Something about the blue glow of the light around them gave the impression of frigidity, especially since it filtered through the clouds overhead with no impression of a moon or stars to give it a source.

“Having the attention of all is mine?” The Storm’s head turned, presumably to scan the table. “Of gladness does to me the hearing embue. Tonight waiting with much the length it has been, of many things do not want I your minds scattered about to be.”

“No, I’m sorry,” across the table, the little girl with gold hair and gold eyes interrupted, “Master Avatar-of-the-Storm, I’m sure what you have to say is important, but I simply cannot understand a single word.”

Elena frowned at Little One. Even after a few weeks, it still felt strange to interact with her in the dream world as if nothing had happened, as if the violence between them had been a little disagreement instead of attempts to kill one another. Of course, even more strange was how fast the other Twisted had accepted the golden child back into their number.

 

***

One month ago

 

Elena gently rubbed her fingers against each other, only half-listening to the click of the puzzle pieces against each other. The last time she and Little One had seen each other in the dream world, she had slammed into the child with a knife and blindly slashed away until she had been covered in golden blood. On the other hand, the last time she’d seen the woman in real life, Elena had joined her forces, the new ruling class of Milia.

No matter how she thought about telling the other members of the Twisted, it sounded hollow in Elena’s ears. She paced in front of the door, biting her lip and furrowing her brow in concentration. Would they worry that Elena was being coerced, somehow? Would they listen to her explanation, but brush it aside and dismiss her? Worst possibility of all, would they wonder at Elena’s own loyalty to Italoza, perhaps associating her with the rebels who wanted to tear Milia down? Would they even be wrong to do so?

“Only you would pace like that, Elena. Come in before you wear a path in the floor.” Little One’s childlike voice from inside the room cut through Elena’s musings, and she grit her teeth and steeled herself. There was no further time to worry about it, whatever she was going to tell them about her and Little One’s alliance, it was time to tell them now.

When she opened the door, Elena was surprised to find more than just the customary room of prison bars with Little One inside. In addition, Lord Waldren sat on one of the benches on one side, and Master Coastering stood in front of the prison with his hands clasped behind him. Coastering turned to look at Elena as she came in, the action enough to send the ribbons that made up his face floating adrift.

“Mistress Lucciano your presence is always pleasant, but today it is fortuitous as well,” the rather pompous Master Coastering spread his hands, his wide gestures expressive in a way his ribboned face could not be, “you represent the sole authority in a discrete point within the conversation we were just engaging in.”

“Little One seems to be under the impression that you’ll vouch for her,” Lord Waldren broke in to explain, “I had just gotten done telling her how very unlikely that is, given the history between you two.”

“I find it a fascinating claim,” Master Coastering moved his hand to stroke the black fog that made up his face beneath the ribbons, “it’s so verifiable, so easily disproven, that I still rather think our golden little one might be telling the truth. Please, Mistress Lucciano, do us the honor of clearing the matter up.”

Elena looked back and forth between Black Furs and Master Coastering, both hiding their expressions but with expressive body language, then at Little One who returned her look with a blank and expressionless mask.

I wish it were easier to read these people, Elena thought.

“I, um…I suppose that’s the case, yes, I vouch for her,” she said aloud, “not that it matters much-”

“You do? Really?” Lord Waldren gasped, his bored body language suddenly changing to one of fascination, “of course it matters, Elena, it matters a great deal! Your opinion on the subject is the lion’s share of her incarceration here in the dream.”

Elena blinked, “but…why?”

“You remember what I’ve always told you, Elena,” Lord Waldren heaved himself to his feet, “when it comes to the Twisted, only we can judge one another. Your judgement is among the only judgement in the world capable of fully understanding Little One, capable of grasping her guilt.”

“But…it was just my word against hers,” Elena said.

“Careful, dear friend, they’ll think you don’t want me freed,” Little One said as Lord Walrdren made his way to the prison bars, fumbling with a set of keys at his belt. Despite her uneasy alliance with the woman, Elena wasn’t entirely sure she did want Little One freed, but she remained silent as Lord Waldren unlocked the bars.

“Mistress Lucciano, had it only been your word against hers, more consideration would’ve been taken,” Master Coastering said, “but we are not without our resources. You spoke of a rebellion brewing in Milia, and our sources told us of such a rebellion. You told us Little One was at its head, and indeed the shape of it backed up such an assertion. You told us that you put the rebellion to rest, and a few days afterward Prince Langone’s successor places you on her council.”

“Not that we don’t trust you, my dear,” Lord Waldren said kindly, “but it’s always nice when we can see the truth of your words reflected in the ripple of politics around the kingdom. The word of our own little almost-ruler of Milia goes quite a long way, my dear.”

“Why,” Little One flashed Elena one of her rare smiles, the knowing expression looking a bit disturbing on the little girl’s face, “it’s almost as if the Twisted care more about who holds the power than who is ‘right’, in the traditional sense.”

“Honestly I can put you right back in that cell,” Lord Waldren grumbled.

“That’s not how it works and you know it,” Little One practically skipped across the room, “I can say whatever I want, as long as I have someone powerful to vouch for me.”

As she watched the girl slip out of the room, Elena wasn’t quite sure she liked the responsibility.

 

***

 

“Elena? Hello, Elena?” Little One repeated.

Elena blinked, “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“I said that you’ve spent enough time around the avatar of the Storm, will you translate for the rest of us?”

Elena glanced at the Storm, who nodded wordlessly, then continued.

“Indeed, has the longness with need been tempered and the teachings with learnings the same,” the Storm continued, “without queen-giving, to Elena with wind like leaves blown was the directions. Yet I of plans knowing not was the mind of me how the teachings-giving would the plan need.”

“He says it’s taken him a long time to learn what he needed to,” Elena translated, “and that even though I didn’t end up meeting his plan of being a good queen, I was able to help his plans by teaching him.”

“Of humans arranged the earth their import is the knowing of me, of humans even arranged the humans is the knowing of me, the plan of me with other each does growing together it comes.”

“His plan has become better and better now that he knows geography and…” Elena struggled to follow the Storm herself for a moment, “…and how humans interact with each other? Like, politics I think?”

The Storm was growing excited now, moving its arms expressively, “of motion silent when concerns power motions are the having! The ways many with the seeing from outside never, these is the must to the ruler is the wantings of me.”

“He’s saying the ruler he chose has to be good at bringing together power from a lot of sources-” Elena began.

“All of us have amassed power,” Lucrezia interrupted quietly, “it’s what we do.”

“The seeings from outside many,” the Storm shook its head, “Twisted all, legacy of you have the seeings from outside many been the givings. Even Elena.”

“All of us have been too obvious in having power,” Elena frowned, a little stung at what she was translating. After all, it wasn’t her fault that she hadn’t been subtle.

“So you’ve chosen someone else? Someone outside of our little group?” Lord Waldren looked concerned, but the Storm was already raising a single hand for silence.

“The choosing was the gifting of me,” the Storm said. He spoke in short sentences, as if aware of how the Twisted were hanging on every word. “The spymaster of Florenzia was the choosing of me. Listenings are the king-givings to her. Yours greater are the havings of her armies. Knowing-not was the outside all in the stretchings of spies, knowing-not was the outside all in the stretchings of talk-tellers to her. Beyond and into Italoza were her talk-tellers.”

“He chose-” Elena began, but the entire table was already rumbling with talk.

“Have any of us even met the King’s spymaster?” Lucrezia asked the table at large.

“I’ve seen her from time to time, a quiet thing, far too quiet for my tastes,” Master Coastering answered.

“The…who?” Midora frowned, turning to face down the table at Lord Waldren, “who is the King’s Spymaster these days?”

“Cora someone-or-other,” Lord Walrdren was still frowning, still concerned, and he began carefully, “my Lord Avatar of the Storm, far be it from me to question your judgement…if this is your choice, of course we will all support you. I just wonder if it might not be better to hear all of our points of view on this. I admit, I don’t know much about the King’s Spymaster, and given her position it is entirely possible that she holds all of the political power you describe, but…I can’t imagine a choice for your ruler that is not Twisted. I can’t imagine a person who would make a better ruler than the people who sit at this table here.”

“The imaginings, I have-not them either,” the Storm said, and the table suddenly quieted. Out of the corner of her eye, Elena caught a ripple of jet black, and her heart caught in her chest as she turned.

The undulation in the ink-like surface of Fulvio’s skin made it look more like the unstoppable rise of a wave than any human motion, and it glinted with a nonexistent reflection of a moon that wasn’t there as the figure rose. It stood silent for a moment, only the head moving slightly to take in each of them with a featureless black face.

“I’ll do it,” said Fulvio, “with your help, Twisted, I’ll rule the world.”

“Rule the world will you,” the Storm said, “and now, the tellings will be the givings to you what will you do for me, when rule the world you do.”

 

***

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2 responses

  1. Hamish

    Is fulvio the spymaster?

    Like

    2016-03-08 at 5:56 am

    • Duckfan77

      That is the implication.

      Like

      2016-03-08 at 7:09 am

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