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Principles of Desolation by Randall N. Bills

Principles of Desolation by Randall N. Bills

Author:Randall N. Bills [Bills, Randall N.]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Roc
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00


14

Zi-jin Cheng, Sian

Capellan Confederation

7 December 3135

Perhaps someday, if Erde worked hard enough and won Daoshen over, she'd convince him to meet somewhere besides his throne room. The fact that all the servants and hangers-on in the immediate vicinity insisted on referring to Daoshen as "God Incarnate" was bad enough; but the throne room was simply not built for comfort (at least, not for the comfort of anyone but Daoshen). This was now her third meeting with him, and on the second she had at least persuaded him to provide her with a simple wooden chair. She sat there, a good meter and a half below Daoshen, and attempted to hold a friendly conversation. It would be so much easier, more comfortable, if they could sit together at a table, sipping tea and simply chatting.

No doubt Daoshen would not share her assessment of the situation. There was no place in the universe more comfortable for him than where he was now, perched on his throne, surrounded by loyal servants, perpetually basking in his own glory.

So, despite the fact that looking up at him made her old neck stiff, she put up with the surroundings. After all, she always made certain to travel with at least one highly skilled masseuse. Muscle stiffness could be dealt with later.

She was still figuring out the best approach to talking to Daoshen. Questions of a personal nature—"How are you? How is the stress of war affecting you?"—were meaningless. In his mind, he was the state. He fared exactly as well as did the state. He seemed to have no personal emotions, no desires, no anything beyond what the state needed and demanded. If he had ever had a distinct personality, Erde thought, it had long been swallowed up by the Celestial Throne upon which he sat. After all, what god worth his salt had a personal life to worry about?

So conversation was pretty much limited to matters of state, but even there she had to tread carefully. He did not seem to appreciate direct questions about his military adventures, and if she was too blatant with information she had picked up through her personal network of eyes and ears, he tended to close up. He liked to distribute information as he saw fit, and did not like his face rubbed in the fact that people could learn things without having to talk to him. She had to be circumspect, indirect and above all never appear to be questioning his wisdom.

It was exhausting and it made her passionately look forward to her neck massage.

Still, despite the difficulty of the conversation, she must be doing something right as he had now allowed her to come back for a third meeting. She wouldn't say he was beginning to like her, but at least he saw talking to her as something of use. For what reasons, she didn't know.

She was dressed simply in a sky blue gown that buttoned down the back. Her white hair was caught in a net



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