Grand Chamber of the Emerald Throne Palace of Shahdara FEZEDDINE | Crown Prince of Sikandara As the Crown Prince, Fezeddine had come to the grand chamber on many occasions. The ceremonies in many senses were the same as they had been three hundred and fifty years ago, when the Tanfilalt Dynasty had established its primacy over the realm. In fact, the old ceremonial dresses remained the official court dress. Members of the Imperial Family in robes of gold and green. Noble lords in robes of black and white and noble ladies in robes of red and gold. Commoners in simple robes of white and blue. Only the imperial ministers had the privilege to wear a Fez hat and was a sign of great honour. "His Imperial Highness, Lord of the 1st Banner of Honour, Crown Prince of Sikandara!" the Herald exclaimed just before the fanfare began. He scanned the audience, which had been moments before been clapping appreciatively as his father sang a sad song about betrayal, accompanied by the zither and hand drum musicians who had always had a place of prominence ever since his father had ascended to the throne. The courtiers looked at him with tremendous reverence, bowing low as soon as he passed by them. His father was leaning on the armrest as he scanned the crowd. As always, the room was full of the usual sort, ministers, ambassadors, nobles, courtiers, and special invited guests of all sorts. The daily audiences were always ostentatious since his father had come to the throne. The throne hall was a very large chamber and was supported by 100 columns of marble. At the front of this massive room, stood the solid chunk of emerald which had been sculpted into the shape of a throne. No one, save the Emperor, was ever allowed to even touch it. As a child, Fezeddine used to think that if anyone else touched the ancient seat, they would be killed by the magic of all the old emperors. But now, he knew he had been foolish to think that. As soon as he arrived before the throne, he bowed thrice and offered the traditional salutations expected of the Crown Prince. His father immediately stood up and walked down the seven steps to face him. "My son, as you embark on your visit to Pelasgia and Natal, remember us well and we shall all pray for your success on behalf of Our Empire." "Yes, sir." "You will make us all proud, my son." The court applauded the display of fatherly affection. As his father was speaking, Fezeddine noticed Chancellor Musa Hayreddine looking directly at him. It seemed to him that the Chancellor wanted to discuss something and he did not need to be told twice. Ever since his father's erratic behaviour had become public knowledge, the poor Chancellor had been doing everything in his power to keep the business of state running smoothly. After the official reception, the Emperor walked back up to the throne and Fezeddine bowed thrice, again, and walked backwards from the throne. As he withdrew from the Emperor, he noticed that Chancellor Hayreddine was gesturing him towards one of the side rooms. As Fezeddine slipped into the antechamber, he heard the unmistakable voice of the Beyanbe - duchess - of Hisar-noqt as she began regaling the Emperor with a story she had heard from one of the courtiers. It was lewd and the whole gaggle of courtiers was laughing, following the Emperor's lead. Fezeddine sighed and closed the door behind him. Inside, the Chancellor was standing by along with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, with a grave expression. "Your Highness, I fear I must avoid the small talk and jump straight to the issue at hand. I am sure you must have noticed that your father has publicly stated that the Empire would be offering asylum to the members of the discredited Sylvanian administration." "Yes, I noticed. I think the whole world must be wondering what on earth we are talking about." "Your Highness, I fear the policy could prove to be detrimental to our interests. You must do something." "You know I cannot change his mind. Ever since his fiftieth birthday, His Majesty has been entirely opposed to listening to anyone if they counsel him to be cautious. As you know, the past three years have been a gradual decline into stranger and stranger waters." "I think we must be in the strangest waters of all," the Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke, "His Majesty sang a song yesterday about the Justosian Emperor and how he would be so lucky to get his love." With an embarrassed smile, Fezeddine nodded: "Yes, yes. I saw the video." The Chancellor looked at him, "Your Highness, I blame these courtiers. They are making a bad situation worse. Earlier today, His Majesty was singing songs against the Justosian emperor and these courtiers were singing in unison. It turned into such a travesty. His Majesty would sing a verse berating the Justosian emperor and the courtiers would sing it back. The whole dignity of this hallowed place was besmirched. "We must do something about curtailing this. I don't know how I will be able to face the Ambassador of Justosia, again. But we do, at the same time, need to pressurize the international market to boycott Justosian oil. So, we are in a very delicate situation." Fezeddine listened to both men and stayed silent for some time. "This business with the courtiers can't be solved too quickly. We can neither upset His Majesty nor the courtiers. We have to be tactful. But regarding this Sylvanian issue, we need to immediately get in touch with the new President. I will write to him myself."