Long Live the King


#1

Tahi Kurita was one of the most powerful men in Eblan – a ruler of a leading noble house, Archchancellor of the Diet, and a major shareholder of one of the country’s largest businesses. And yet, despite all he had accomplished, he was most proud of his children.

There was Naquan, built like a bodybuilder, wearing traditional samurai armor (though it had been forged from the finest modern alloys) and wearing the ancestral sword of House Kurita, Kusanagi. Naquan had fought in Merge alongside the common soldiers, and he had served as Shogun of all of the Eblanese Kingdom Armed Forces ever since Tiberius Shiawese retired. 

There was Kamiko, ever the dutiful daughter, clad in her traditional kimono and displaying her usual admirable zenlike composure. Although Tahi had sought to find her a respectable suiter, it had proven impossible to find one good enough for her. He had hoped to solidify an alliance with House Eblana by betrothing her to a royal prince, but the death of young Erel had prevented that plan. 

And finally there was Asuka. Asuka the rebel, who always liked getting herself into trouble. Asuka who spurned the traditional path to join a biker gang, and (it was rumored) would work with the Yakuza. Asuka who, though she would answer her father’s summons, would damn well wear a leather jacket and short-shorts, and even the hint of midriff with a tattoo.  Although Tahi did not approve of her actions, he admired her spiritedness; it was appropriate for any true daughter of the House of Tigers. 

The family had gathered here, in the Kurita’s ancestral castle in the snowy mountain city of Caskuraka, and although no one said what had prompted this family reunion, everyone knew the reason why: King Edge was dead. Tahi Kurita was now the most powerful man in Eblan. He was the leader of an esteemed noble house, with a long tradition going back to the founding of the Kingdom – his revered ancestor, Hiro Kurita, is said to have been the greatest swordsman of that legendary age. When other nobles had eschewed “low politics,” Tahi Kurita had stood for office in the Diet and had risen to the position of Archchancellor. He had spearheaded an effort among the nobles to partner with the Kuat Consortium and Esperian Motor Works to build an indigenous armaments business, Aichitomo Applied Technologies (“Atco”), which had become one of the largest mecha producers outside of the Great Powers. 

Whatever power struggle was about to happen in Eblan, Tahi Kurita was going to have a say in it. 

Tahi knew that the polite thing to do was to make idle chatter while he had dinner with his family. Kamiko seemed, ever the perfect traditional Eblanese woman, seemed totally prepared to do this, making banal queries about Asuka’s jetbike and discussing the weather as though everything was fine and the country was not teetering on the brink of civil war. Naquan was doing his best to play along, but Tahi could tell that he was impatient. 

Asuka looked bored, like she was wondering why she had even come. It was her that broke the silence, shattering decorum: “So…has anyone noticed that our country is basically leaderless?”

Kamiko looked shocked; and outwardly Tahi made a face of disapproval but in his heart he could not help but appreciate his daughter’s fiery temperament. Naquan, though, was outraged. “I don’t know why father invited you, Asuka,” he said. “For all you have done to shame our family, it must be only through some munificent paternal love that he has found it in his heart to forgive you.”

“All I have done?” asked Asuka. “The Mysidians have demanded your extradition as a war criminal for what you did to the Tower of Wishes in the Three Week War!”

“I don’t expect you to understand the nature of warfare,” said Naquan. “Perhaps if you had continued your samurai training like your sister I could entertain this conversation. But you have always been too busy embarrassing our family name with sex tapes and getting your photo in the tabloids.”

“So some tabloid reporter snapped a picture of me in a bikini, big fucking deal! I remember when you gave a speech to the Human Nation saying that the Underground Kingdom should be entirely populated by humans and RT-series robots. Father really had to lean on the press to bury that story!”

Tahi pounded the table – he was not really angry, but choose to display anger to cow his children. It had the desired effect, as both fell silent. “Nauqanu, Asuka is of your blood…you must show her your respect. And Asuka, I have indulged your experimental phase, but now is the time for our family to come together.”

Tahi paused for a moment, as what he said next required his family’s full attention.

“Naquan will be the next King of Eblan.”

The words hung in the air for a moment; even if this is what they expected, the realization of it filled the air with heaviness.
Naquan shook his head. “It should be you, father.”

Tahi was pleased that Naquan had showed proper respect and humility at this critical juncture.

Sadly, slowly, Tahi shook his head. “I am old,” he said, “if I became King, I may die in a few years, and we would be back where we started.”

“What about the Queen Esayla?” asked Kamiko. Esayla was wife of the late King Edge, and she came from a Hyrulian noble family.

Tahi scratched his chin. “She has been…supportive of this move,” he said. “I think it might be prudent for Naquan to marry her, to legitimize our claim.”

“Well,” said Kamiko, “I had heard a rumor that she had planned to rule as regent.”

“Don’t believe everything you hear, dear sister,” Naquan said. “Even if the nobility would accept a female ruler, they would never accept a foreigner. In fact, I must say father, I think it would be inappropriate for me to marry her over an Eblanese woman.” Kamiko had attended college abroad, and although Tahi was glad that she had a sense of the wider Web, she seemed to have picked up some strange ideas.

“I have discussed this matter with the leaders of the other noble houses,” said Tahi. “Most will support us…some of our rivals were less than thrilled with the idea, but they have no real alternative.”

“What about the Diet?” asked Kamiko. Although the Diet was Eblan’s democratically elected legislature, it was created by King Edge’s Decree of Popular Good – in theory, it still served at the King’s request.

“The Diet has been…divided on this matter,” said Tahi. “I believe the nation needs a strong King to continue functioning. Some might oppose Naquan initially, but I am sure they will be won over by persistent and virtuous leadership. He is already beloved by the army for his courage.”

Naquan had fought in the Coalition-Merge War, and he eschewed a desk job for the rigors and danger of fighting on the front line. Although the war overall was a quagmire, Naquan’s brave defense at Begourta Gap against a huge force of Merge League golems stood out as a brief highlight.

“I have also discussed matters with the Guardian ambassador,” said Tahi. “They agree that it would be best if the new King shares their commitment to fighting communism.”

“Ok, so you have the nobles and the army,” said Asuka. “And part of the Diet. That’s like, one percent of the country. What about the regular people?”

“They wish to continue their business as normal, daughter,” said Tahi. “They will be relieved to know that the problem has been solved.”

“…and you don’t think that some of them might have a problem with ‘dear brother’, here? He’s practically a fascist!”

“It is true that fascism has been…misunderstood,” said Naquan. “But I seek only to build a pure and great nation.”

“…yeah, saying things like that, won’t help,” said Asuka.

“Although sister does not show good manners at this time, what she says bears considering,” agreed Kamiko. “King Edge did much to reform the government. You should inaugurate your rule with a symbol of peace and reconciliation.”

“Like what?”

“You could pardon Ichiro Mitsuhama.”

Naquan chortled. “Ichiro is a communist and a traitor. If it were legal to kill a noble, I would have him executed on my first day as King. He lacks even the honor to commit <i> sepekku </i>.”

“Have you read his Letters from Prison?” asked Kamiko.

“Of course not. They are illegal,” said Naquan. “Seditious claptrap.”

“….maybe you should read them,” said Asuka. “Maybe you should know what life is like for the part of the country that’s <i> not </i> nobility.”

“I’m sure all your yakuza friends love him,” said Naquan acidly. 

Kamiko was determined to gloss over this sibling spat. “Whatever you think of him, the people below think he speaks for them…he has become a symbol, a civil rights icon. King Edge tried to manage the factions in our country, but if you pardoned Ichiro, made him a minister, you could actually reconcile them.”

“What do you think, father?”

“Naquan, it is your time to rule,” said Tahi. “Men like me…we had our time. We won the Great War and tried to build a New Peace for our children. I am sad that the world we leave you is far from perfect…but we did the best we could with what we had. No parent could do any more or any less.”