Otyerio tched at the piled layers of her formal robes. “I will not miss these. Robes are lovely. But when we’ve allowed them to become tents and shackles all in one,” she shook her head. “We’ve gone too far.”
She let her gaze trail over her gathered sons and grandsons. “I’d suggest one of you put your foot down. When it’s decided which foot will be be doing the putting.”
They shifted, some uncomfortably, some impatiently. Seven of them. Seven left who could qualify to take her throne. Her youngest son cleared his throat.
“Mother, you don’t know that this is your last festival. You could be with us for many years to come.”
“Oh, Edrinon, and disappoint Antonnon and Acadadar? They’re already sick of waiting for an old woman to die. And besides.” She looked in the long mirror at herself. Her braids, gone from silver to white in the last couple years, trailed in two simple plaits to her thighs. Her face was etched with too many years of debating and arguing, too many years of stomping her foot and standing patiently through festivals and parades. “There is a time to be done. And there hasn’t been a good battle in so long… in so long none of you were born when last I got to swing a sword at someone.”
“It’s a time of peace, Mother.”
She noted that, while Edrinon was still trying to talk her into staying alive longer, Antonnon and Acadadar were in no way trying to disavow their ambition. Good for them. You had to want the throne, or it would devour you.
“It’s a time of peace,” Empress Otyeriotanerio agreed. She held still while her maid slid on the first layer of her festival garments over the soft embroidered under-tunic. “And that means it’s time for a Peace Emperor, and time for the War Empress to get a well-deserved rest.”
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