Holy Majesty, Emperor of the Sun, Lord of the Skies, Source of Blessings
Protecting Emperor Yidi is a challenge for various reasons, with one of them being the pompous ruler himself. As it turns out, the entitled young Emperor Yidi has been sheltered from the world and doesn’t know anything about life outside his castle, which includes how to make friends.
“You may greet me, barbarians,” the boy commanded them. He wore a long black silk robe with an embroidered blue-green dragon covering the front and a golden dragon on each shoulder. Four more dragons were embroidered around the hem of the robe. But none of this grandeur can disguise the fact that he’s a lot of boy, Lucy thought. “I am His Holy Majesty, Emperor Yidi, and all that you see under the heavens belongs to me.” The youth gave a grand, imperious gesture that set the long billowing sleeves of his robe swinging. Hepushed them up, entangling his hands in the process. Extricating himself from the fabric, he thrust out a hand to Dee. His sleeves promptly fell again to cover it and the young emperor made a rude sound.
He’s not very happy with his gilded status.
“I’m tired now,” Yidi declared. “In the morning, you will entertain
me. I’m bored.”
“How can you be bored being the emperor?” Lucy wondered.
“Right now I don’t like being the emperor very much.” He
chucked a pillow at one of the guards who allowed it to hit him. “I
feel like a dress-up doll.” He pulled his heavy silk robe away from his
body and looked at it with disgust. “I am the Son of the Celestial
King—the supreme ruler like my father, grandfather, and great
grandfather, and all down the other greats.” He pulled a dish of spiced
fish toward him and speared a fillet. “And like them, I am the chosen
one of the gods. It is my sacred right and duty to rule this empire. But
I don’t get to make any decisions. Xixi and her band of snaky
sycophants do that for me. And they will continue to do so until I am
sixteen. Three more long years.” He plopped the fillet on his plate and
cut into it savagely.
But he’s not above using threats to get his own way.
Yidi waved a hand. “Yes, and you have to.” He looked smug.
“The Xami said you were here to be my companions. And don’t forget, my word is law. If you don’t obey, I can have you executed with one snap of my fingers.”
Yidi held his hand up in the finger snapping gesture and Lucy pressed her lips together. If this is how he treats his companions, no wonder the kid doesn’t have any friends.
Out of the corner of her eye, Lucy saw the guards stiffen to attention and grasp their axes more firmly. She gulped and slid her gaze to Dee. His normally pale face went whiter still.
“I’ll think of something,” Dee whispered.
“Go now.” Yidi flicked his fingers at them. “I’m tired.”
An overheard sinister plot forces him to flee with Lucy and Dee into a country where unknown discoveries await. Somehow, dangers find them wherever they go, but Yidi is finally exposed to the injustices that have unbeknownst to him, befallen the citizens.
On their way, they passed several fields. Groups of people already toiled under the strengthening sun. It promised to be a brutally hot day, and they had nothing to protect themselves.
Lucy walked to the front and stood beside Yidi.
“See anything odd?” she waved an arm at the field workers.
Yidi squinted. “No. Why?”
“Really?” Lucy frowned. “Look closer.”
“Don’t see why I should. They’re just peasants,” Yidi grumbled, but he shaded his eyes and peered again at the workers. Slowly he lowered his hand, a stunned expression on his face. “Those people are chained together! And two of them are courtiers who disappeared from the palace two months ago.”
He still feels helpless to do anything about it.
“What do you want me to say?” Yidi threw up his hands. “I’m in no position to do anything. And I didn’t want to disappear too. And now we’re on the run, in case you haven’t noticed.” Sarcasm dripped from his voice. “Slavery would be too good for us now. She’ll only be happy if our heads are rolling around in the dirt.”
“You have to do what I say.”