The Monotooth was in the skilled hands of the royal physicians, the Servatori were on guard around its room, the body of Ch’Voga was being…tended to by the family servants, Amisbhake didn’t know if embalming was the word anymore. What does one do with a dried corpse, especially one which had begun to rot again when the Monotooth carried it into slightly more humid climes? How long had the undead cyborg walked among the people? A corpse carrying a corpse, it gave Amisbhake a shiver to consider. The Sun would not rise for a few hours yet but no one was looking for his bed. The day had begun. The Viceroy led them back to the council room, which the uncanny staff in their vigilant prescience had lit and prepared for them.
“So,” this most unique of all morning meetings began with the calming familiar, the Viceroy pouring the first cups of coffee for each of them himself and placing the first question to his advisors, “What do you make of this?”
“Verily,” C’Yashi’s gravely purr was the first heard, also familiar, though possibly not reassuringly so. “You do not want to know what I think, sire.”
“Probably not, but pretending for a moment it is early and my better judgment slept in, indulge me.”
“Very well. I think I for one have never been party to so vulgar an act as I have just witnessed in all my years! And may I never be again should I live a thousand more!”
The Viceroy finished pouring, sat in his throne at the head and adopted a listening posture. “Indeed. Do tell?” They all sat in their places, two divans for the six advisors on either side of the central charcoal.
“In my long years of service to Milord, I have almost become inured to the battering of my liege’s shocking displays and erratic decisions. But this! This, by far, is the most irrational, preposterous and outright irresponsible of them all!”
“It would seem since we’re beginning the meeting early today,” Amisbhake said, “we will be treated to longer preambles.”
“Pre-rambles, you mean,” Moche chuckled.
“Peace counselors,” the Viceroy chastened, “The source of your outrage, C’Yashi?”
“Is this, Milord: the Regent embracing his son’s very murderer? It is indecent! Extravagant to the point of forgetting, nay! Flogging justice, to say nothing of your beloved son’s memory and honor. Does he not deserve justice? But! Milord’s soft-hearted forgiveness and mercy are legendary so one could almost, almost I say, swallow this bitter lozenge. But to call the very… abomination your son! To name it your heir! Have you gone mad, Milord? I do hope your better judgment awakes and joins us soon!” Amisbhake always had a violent itch to draw his sword after C’Yashi spoke. Some low murmurs and hard looks around the council told him he was not alone in the sentiment.
“Should I not honor my son’s last wish?”
“How do we know it was his wish?”
“We have his will. Written in his own hand or I’m not his Father, sealed with his ring.”
“But what state was your son in, Milord?” the emphasis on ‘your son’ could not be missed. “Alone, most probably injured or dehydrated, captured by this vile devil,” which, Amisbhake translated in his head, is not your son, “and being dragged back to its lair. He very well could have been delirious.”
“Yet was coherent enough to instruct a member of a hostile race that to my knowledge, no one has ever managed to communicate with,” Amisbhake countered, “giving him specific instructions on how to get here, how to get in contact with the Viceroy himself, write a legible, credible will and testament and seal it. A high cognitive delirium indeed.”
“The cyborg had the ring.”
“And knew what it was for?”
“Conceded. However it could be a joke! Not to be crass, Milord but Ch’Voga was famous for his dry wit. Never expecting the creature to make the journey here, much less survive, he could have written it only to amuse himself.”
“Pretty risky,” Moche said, “giving a Monotooth directions to the capitol for a joke.”
“What is it you fear, C’Yashi?” Amisbhake asked.
“Assassins, large dogs, the laundry staff losing his imported robes,” Melchizadek quipped.
“Perhaps,” Moche added, “he fears the assassin is here for him, Ch’Voga’s last joke, as it were.”
C’Yashi waited for the chuckles to settle, “Sire, I apologize for starting this line,” C’Yashi said to the Viceroy. To Moche he hissed, “Have you no shame? We have not even buried him!” All eyes shifted to the empty place on the Viceroy’s throne where the heir sat.
Moche, abashed, also apologized. “I meant no disrespect, Milord. I loved him as my own.”
“I know, Moche. Fear not, Ch’Voga would be the first to complain if we were dour on his account. The time will come to mourn, to grieve, but we who knew him in this council, may speak as he would have had us speak,” Chofa rumbled with only an extra softness to his distant thunder rumble to betray the pain he must be feeling. “And I do not believe for a second he would send anyone to assassinate his favorite foil.” C’Yashi’s smile was wan. “So what is it that has you so concerned, C’Yashi?”
“Your highness, I do not trust what I do not understand. A barely sentient cyborg killing machine I understand. One here in the capitol, in the very palace infirmary, this I do not understand. Ch’Voga naming it like a pet; that I could understand. Like his own child, I do not. Wanting a connection while he is alone, someone to belong to, even this I could attempt to understand. Showing it the way here so it could sit in that very place at the council fire,” he gestured to Ch’Voga’s empty seat, “and someday yours, Milord, that I most certainly do not understand! Nor can I certify it as wise.”
“What would you have me do?”
C’Yashi waved his hand, “It is not my place to say…”
“What would you do, C’Yashi? If you were Viceroy, what would you do with this pitiable creature?”
C’Yashi met his eye. “Kill it, Milord. For the sake of our posterity. For the sake of all that’s holy. And for Ch’Voga, your beloved son, I say, kill it.”