A Reveler's Story

“Another rice wine? Don’t mind if I do! To the Emperor! Gambai!”

“You wouldn’t believe what I saw. You heard about the attack – everybody did, of course you did – well I was there. Not there-there, you understand, but near enough to see. There was an – an explosion, like from those fireworks, but close. Too close. Ears ringing still. Filled the whole street with ash and smoke and rock-dust, blew out the whole front of some shop along the Imperial Way, right before the Emperor – honor to him – would have been there. And then out they come, those bastards, all covered up like cowards, like always.”

“Hey there, you know, don’t let a friend’s cup go dry! There’s a man. Good man.”

“So out they come, and there she is, the Golden Bitch herself, slashing all about. You know…you know, it looked almost like she’s got a sword like the Emperor’s – long may he live – just like he’s got. Kinda golden-like when you see it flash in the sun. But hers god red soon enough, and worse, with whatever oni have for blood. But they turn things around quick, and off they run, leaving a bunch of mayhem and bodies behind them, like always.”

“You think that Prophet bitch knows what she’s doing? Heaven and earth, it’s all off kilter, everybody can see that. Just the thing the right Emperor is supposed to fix. Like in the old stories, about the gods and fairies and what-not. All the alchemists, and mandarins, and geomancers and fortune-tellers haven’t told us how to fix it. Maybe old stories’ll do. Maybe an Emperor. If the Bitch would just leave him be.”

“Wait there, buddy, my cup…ah there’s a friend. Good friend. A drink, to the Emperor!”


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