Tag Archive: Orbsen


Fractal Edges

Darius read over the book a third time, just to be sure that he understood the directions. More and more often, he was lapsing into visions. This book proclaimed to have ideas on how to slow down their frequency.

The simplest one seemed to be to get someplace safe and secluded and bring one on. It appeared that he would have the visions either way, but – similar to how dogs taught to ‘speak’ were less likely to bark indiscriminately – bringing them on in specific circumstances served to give a measure of control.

As such, he was imagining a triangle with triangles multiplying inside it, becoming smaller and smaller until the whole of the triangle was filled with them. He then repeated the process, and again until his vision grew hazy and then clouded over.

The emperor sat reading a book. He was curled up; his feet tucked into the chair under him. The fire in the hearth had burned low. As Darius watched, he realized that this was the emperor at a much younger age. He was still the prince.

His suspicions were confirmed when an oni peeked into the room and said, “Highness, isn’t it past your bedtime?”

“Yes, Henry,” the young prince said as he set the book aside. As he left the room, the vision faded.

Darius sat up, blinking in shock. It was perhaps the first time he’d had a vision that didn’t involve death. He grinned down at the book in his hand and murmured, “Fractals, hm?”

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Orbsen heaved a sigh as he was disarmed for the third time. He shook out his aching hands and cast a glance behind him. His father was at the window, watching him train. He’d seen the whole embarrassing exchange.

“I’m no good at this,” the young prince protested. “Why must we keep working at it. I have guards and oni all around me on the rare occasions that I leave the palace grounds. Why keep torturing me like this?”

“I’m not torturing you, highness,” Collin said patiently. “You actually lasted longer that time. You’re getting better. Besides, you won’t always have a guard within screaming distance. Ready to go again?”

Orbsen sighed and picked up his sword to get himself ready. The fox-fey was right but Orbsen was sure that his father didn’t see any of the improvement the other warrior did. He saw only the disappointing second son who had become his heir almost by default.

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.

We Were Holding the Future in Hand

“So this thing can power the whole castle?” Orbsen asked. He held a small crystal in the palm of his hand. The lights in the room danced across its faceted surface as he turned it in his hand to get a better look at it. “Where does it draw its power from?”

“It draws its power from the weave just as we do,” the inventor said. “It’s a renewable resource.”

“Because the weave come from everything alive in the three worlds,” Orbsen surmised. “Before we set these up and start drawing unprecedented amounts of energy from the thing which gives everyone life, let’s make sure that it doesn’t cause any problems.”

“Yes, your majesty,” the inventor said. His voice spoke volumes of what he thought about the whole testing process, but he didn’t protest. Instead he would later grumble how the emperor held the future in his hand and set it aside to remain in the past.

Now This Day Too Enters History

Orbsen thought back over his long life.  It was punctuated by days that were now celebrated by the citizens of the country he ruled.  His birthday.  The day he was formed.  The day he was named the Trueborn Heir.  The day he was crowned the emperor.  The day he married his wife.  The births of each of his children.  These were all named national holidays by virtue of being associated with him.

 Orbsen was certain that this date would be another national holiday – if not one that was celebrated with joy.  He struggled to keep his head over the mire that dragged at his limbs.  A clinical detached part of him worried that his courtiers would take advantage of his son and heir.  The boy was even more a child than he had been when he became emperor.  Another part imagined the grand funeral procession that would bring his body back to Tirna Nog to be buried.

 When he’d left the Capital to meet with each of his lords, he never expected to be caught in one of the less common dangers of the wilds.  His guards would watch over him, he’d assured his family.  He looked around and saw that most of them had already disappeared beneath the surface of the mire.  Those recently departed were marked by bubbles that popped as they reached the surface.  Those who’d been gone longer seemed to bob back to the surface.

 “Orbsen!” a familiar voice called out.  The young emperor turned to find King Arawn standing with several men at the edge of the mire.  “Hang on,” the other monarch called over.  “Help is on the way.”

 “Hurry,” Orbsen called back.  He would be rescued and not share the fate of his men.  This day would still be remembered, however.  He would see to that.

I don’t know one joke

Orbsen sighed and readjusted his circlet.  “I hate making speeches,” he groused.  “I never know where to start.”

 “Make a joke.  It breaks the ice and puts your audience at ease,” Kassel advised.

 “I don’t know any jokes,” Orbsen said after a thoughtful moment.  “Well, I know jokes but they’re either really bad, really old, not pertinent or a combination of the three.”

 “That’s a joke,” Almace said.

 “Huh?” Orbsen said, turning to face him.

 “My advisors said I should open with a joke, but all the jokes I know are too old, too awful, not pertinent or a combination of the three,” Almace said.

 “Anyone heard any good, recent jokes that have to do with new advisory positions?” Orbsen quipped.  “Yeah, they’ll be rolling in the aisles.”

 Janis shook his head.  “Just be yourself.  You have wit, even if you don’t realize it.”  Orbsen grinned and nodded.  “Go on now, before you’re late.”

Orbsen sat in the garden.  Now that the weather was returning to its normal warmth, he could without his oni and other servants fearing that he’d take ill.  All around the cherry trees were blooming.  They looked like pink clouds.

 In the human world they would shed the blossoms within weeks.  Here too the petals would soon coat the ground in a strange sort of snow.  However, the blooms would form on the branches again almost as soon as they dropped.  It was the magic of Mag Mell.

 “Hello,” a soft voice greeted.  Orbsen looked up and smiled.  He didn’t know the person but he sensed only good intentions.  Sometimes his half-trained gift of empathy came in handy.  “I hope you don’t think that I’m terribly bold but… I was wondering if you would talk to be about your experiences outside of Mag Mell.  I’m writing a chronicle regarding the dangers of the wilds and… um,” the young man trailed off uncertainly.

 “What did you want to know?” Orbsen asked softly.  If this man was writing about the wilds, it stood to reason that he would travel there at some point.  Perhaps Orbsen could finally find out what happened to his youngest brother, lost for so long.

Thus Spring Begins

In spring everything seems new.  The trees start budding.  Little plants push up through ground that had been barren only weeks before.  Baby animals abound.  Cherry trees blossom. 

Orbsen smiled.  There were areas in Mag Mell that were frozen perpetually in one season.  In Tirna Nog, that season was spring.  The only change was the ones that the deiva couldn’t live without.  Vegetables and grains would still progress as if the seasons marched on.  It was the only hint that summer and autumn came and went.

In the past year, things had changed.  There was a new emperor.  During his father’s reign, as the old emperor became more focused on himself and less on his land and people, the cherry trees had bloomed less and less.  Not as many flowers peeked up out of the ground.  In short the land was dying.  Looking around, Orbsen decided one thing.  Winter was needed.  The cycle had to come full circle.

Now, at the end of a winter that his people had feared and dreaded and finally come to accept, Orbsen smiled as the cherry trees outside his window began to burst with buds.  Spring had arrived.  The world was new.

Monica Ferris

an author with many hats

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