Orbsen straightened his robes and headed into the council chamber. He knew what the meeting was about. He had been married to Diantha for nearly twenty years. Ordinarily, the emperor had many wives, not just one. He’d already had several offers. Each one he had turned down in as polite a manner as he could. He’d even gone so far as to help some make other marriage arrangements.

As he entered the room, the assembled councilors stood. “Hello,” he greeted. “I’m sure you all know why I’ve called you here, since some of you have proposed daughters and nieces as second wives for me.”

“Yet you’ve turned them all down. I assume this is a meeting to explain your actions,” Lord Inari said softly.

“Indeed,” Orbsen said. He took a seat and the other men and women settled into seats of their own. “My reason is very simple: love and loyalty for the wife I have. I see no reason to take a second wife. There are other ways to make alliances besides through marriage.”

“Your father always said that love was a useless sentiment,” his mother said softly.

“Well, we both know I’m nothing like my father, Mother,” Orbsen said wryly. “I’ve loved Diantha for as long as I can remember. I can’t take a wife beside her.” He smiled at the councilors and shrugged. “I hope you don’t think it’s selfish.”

“No, Majesty, not selfish. Your ancestor, King Llyr, also took only one wife,” Lord Aizen said. “So there’s a precedent for it. In fact I think the practice of multiple wives is a more recent addition. That’s something that we can set aside along with your father’s propensity for fighting.”

“Thank you for your understanding,” Orbsen said with a grin.

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