What conscious influence does your king allow?
People who are in power, and who stay in power, have an interesting relationship to their support people.
By virtue of being physically near the king, his servants, advisors, and near relatives influence his state of mind, his manners, and his daily routine. These factors, in turn, shape his use of power.
King Sorle pulled the sheaf of papers towards him, and glanced up at the pair of advisors that hovered, like concerned butterflies, at the end of the table.
“He’s been cheating the tax advisory,” the first young man said. His nose was like a rabbit’s snout.
“Have you issued a warning?” Sorle asked. He flipped through the pages; he’d warned Jules about this wordiness in his reports. Weariness and annoyance teased at his shoulders; Sorle shifted in his seat.
“We’ve sent two messages,” the second young man said.
“But has anyone gone to speak to the man?” Sorle asked. The two officials glanced at each other, and then stared at the king. It was abundantly clear that they had not done this. “Bring me a personal report of what he says,” Sorle said, pushing the papers at the two advisors. The first one snatched up the papers, and scuttled from the room; he was followed close behind by the second young man.
Sorle stood up and stretched his arms. He would have gone out today, but the palace had been in a snarl ever since the new tariffs had gone into effect, and no one seemed able to do anything properly without him.
King Sorle strode down the steps of the palace; his train of hangers-on clustered behind him like a gaggle of noisy schoolchildren.
A pair of young men hovered at the mouth of the courtyard; the king saw these two, but did not acknowledge them as he mounted his white horse. The first young man, who had a face like an earnest rat, muttered rapid words to his companion, who smoothed his clothes, and came over the stone ground towards the king.
“Yes?” Sorle asked. The chingle and rattle of the harness rang merrily in the fair morning air.
“I’m Edwun, of the secondary tax advisory,” the man said. He glanced at his rat-faced companion, who stepped forward.
“We need further authority to seize on the lands of a merchant in Habor town,” the rat-faced man said. His eyes were hard, and eager.
“We’ve sent two emissaries, and gone ourselves, but he claims the new tariff doesn’t apply to him,” Edwun explained.
“Who appointed you to the advisory?” Sorle asked. He turned the white horse towards the gate, and the young men hurried to keep up with him. Rat-face glanced uneasily at his companion, who flushed, but gazed up at the king determinedly.
“Jules,” Edwun said.
“And did Jules send you to me?” Sorle asked. The clop of his horse’s hooves mingled with the chatter of Sorle’s men, who strode along behind him. Edwun looked at the rodent-like man, who turned an interesting shade of purple. “Go and tell Jules to fire one of you,” the king said.
Edwun looked suddenly relieved, and Rat-face looked ready to vomit. Sorle hid his smile, and nudged his white horse into a trot.
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