Jun 21, 2021 12:31 PM
Saddest Gregor in Fairyland
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Power recovers from his shocked silence after a second. "You're pathetic."

"You're a monster."

"I'm a man who knows what he wants."

"I hate you," Monument hisses, tears welling in his eyes.

"Then why don't you kill me already?"

He shakes his head angrily. "You offered me your assistance in securing the safety of my empire and I will have it!"

"Well, would you look at that," says Power, impressed. "Maybe there's a spine in there after all."

Monument takes a deep breath and blinks to clear his eyes. "Will you help me or not."

"Swear you'll kill me with your own hands."

"Done."

"Then I'll help you." Power smiles sharply. "Because you're finally starting to make me proud."

Monument shudders.

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The entire concept of parenting makes even less sense to Promise than it did before she saw an example.

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"Time to do politics," says Sunbeam, swishing her skirt. "All right. I'll catch you up," she says to Monument, and there follows a silent conversation presumably conducted over Monument's communication power.

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Monument gradually reverts from openly upset to the look of distant unhappiness that seems to be his default.

At the end of a few minutes, he turns to Promise and asks, "What are our options in securing his cooperation? I believe in the sincerity of his offer - although it would be good to verify that as well - but I would prefer not to risk him changing his mind."

"Some conscience you've got," snorts Power. Monument flinches slightly, but ignores him.

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"I can order him to do or not do things, 'things' can include more or less constrained use of his judgment. I don't think I should tell him to use his model of yours, it doesn't seem very good."

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"I would appreciate it if you prohibited him from lying to me so I can verify that his cooperation is genuine," says Monument. "And yes, I agree with that assessment."

"How does it feel, wielding absolute power? Starting to see why I like it so much?"

"On the other hand," says Monument, glancing at Power, "your model of my judgment must have something going for it, because I don't think you would be trying so hard to provoke me into torturing you if you thought it was possible to succeed."

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Promise sighs and tells Power, "Don't lie, by omission or commission, to him or in his hearing, unless he expressly invites you to and then only for the reasonably implied duration of the invitation."

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"Well?" says Monument.

"Meant every word," says Power.

"Thank you," says Monument. "So. I plan to have you reintroduce me to your court as though you are overcome with joy at my return."

"Aren't I just," says Power.

"After that you will announce that since you don't enjoy the minutiae of governance anyway you are retiring to a nice estate north of the mountains and leaving me with all the hard work."

"And what happens when my friends look for me there?"

"Most of your friends will be busy answering for their assorted crimes, but I do intend to give you some time in a nice estate north of the mountains, where you will not be allowed to torture anyone but will otherwise be supplied with every luxury. If you still insist I kill you, we have thought of five different ways to make it look like a plausible accident afterward."

"You'll make a fine Emperor at this rate."

"I am disappointed to have earned your good opinion."

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"How complicated it is to ensure that people he meets hear a convincing lie will depend a lot on how good he is at lying."

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"They're very plausible lies," says Power. "I don't think I'll have much trouble. It'll be sudden, but so is my son appearing out of nowhere with unimaginable otherworldly powers." He pauses. "And if if I see a chance to betray you, I'll be tempted... but I don't think I will."

"Dare I ask why not?"

"You're family."

"You had your father assassinated!"

"I never told him I wouldn't! He was a passionless obsessive who never cared about anything in the world except his fucking empire, and you look to be going the same way, but when I tell you I'll do something I mean it, because you're my son and I love you!"

...

Monument seems at a loss for how to respond to this information. Power looks like he isn't sure whether to regret bringing it up.

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...families: weirdest fucking thing of all time.

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