This is a preview to the chapter Chapter 16 from the book The Weeping Empress by Sadie S Forsythe.
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The announcement of her enthronement spread like a wildfire. It was generally received well with only a few minor uprisings in the capital by those in support of Emperor Kenichi’s three-year-old nephew’s right to rule with his father acting as proxy. All were easily quelled by the guard or a well-placed assassination by Senka. Everyone saw his or her opportunity to profit or prosper by the change in the regime.
Muhjah demonstrated an apt proficiency in administration. In the weeks after their coup d’etat, he handled all of Chiyo’s affairs, from public announcements to what she wore. He understood the need to give Chiyo time and tried to be accommodating, but he could only give her so much. The coronation ceremony would be the end. Afterward, she would have to take an active role in the ruling of her country.
As the day of her coronation approached, Chiyo closed herself away. She had become like a jellyfish, beautiful to look at but startling and painful to those who came upon her unexpectedly. She had no volition of her own. She floated on the crest of a wave unaware.
On the day itself Chiyo stood before a mirror in a castle that was suddenly hers. A valet, she didn’t know, fussed about the heavy robes draping her foreign frame, tut-tutting softly to himself. The red and white fabric had been woven especially for the event as a tribute to the bloody, warriorlike means of her ascension. This wasn’t to be forgotten. There was a fine purple under-robe that peeked out regally at the collar and hem. An obi of the same hue had been intended to complete the ensemble, which would have given it a beautiful symmetry, but she had insisted the sash be green, as green as the deadly mamba.
“We mustn’t forget who owns me,” she had explained bitterly.
They hadn’t understood of course, but they had yielded to their new empress’s whim all the same. It stood out garishly, too bright in the forest of deep colors, but she thought that was all the better. They tied it vice-tight around her waist. It was a brocade prison, built around her one layer at a time. She stood very still so as not to disturb their work. She remembered the Goddess’s vision and the silken bars around her heart all to well. All she could do was pull weakly at the strands and see what happened.
She had given up on her modern life and accepted that she would never see the family she had lost. She was helpless to alleviate the pain her absence must have caused. She had found comrades to stave off the loneliness. She’d become a warrior and accepted, even enjoyed, her life with the blade, but now she had been forced to give that up, too. How many lives will I be forced to lose?
The silk could hide more than one type of scar, and she had so many. The only thing that kept her going was anger. At least there really is nothing left to me to lose. Even Senka and Muhjah are traitors to me now.
Shortly she would officially take the throne by the tip of the swords held by her two most trusted, loyal friends and comrades. They hadn’t asked her permission or even her opinion. If they had done so, she would have firmly refused.
She understood why they had done it, but that knowledge hadn’t helped much. She basically had the proper pedigree. She hadn’t been from a class; she was just an interloper in their realm. She had been simply close enough to all the ranks to be accepted and far enough removed to not be rejected. She was seen as the savior of the people. She had killed the emperor, and the priestesses had hailed her the fulfiller of an inescapable prophecy.
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