Boy Emporer




Palden was born only eleven years ago was but his body a vessel for something infinite.  He was the sacred force that powered the quantum machinery of the cosmos in living form. It was proclaimed that behind the child's squinty eyes were the mind of the universe. That's why he was Emperor, a god wearing a man's flesh. The child's wiry body was adorned in imperial dress woven from fibers worth many times the lives of the subjects who crafted it. It was a flowing tapestry of gold and jade that incorporated designs to intricate they were almost hypnotic to the human eye.
 The godchild lived in a palace built on the eastern side of the highest summit that loomed over his imperial capital. The monument that would stand long after the demise of this latest mortal incarnation of the emperor was a reminder to the people who lived in its shadow he was always watching. Albeit it with vision blurred by a permanent stigmatism.
His official shrine was at the peak of his fortress. In a study sculpted out of wood from the ancient forests. Woodcut from trees that had stood long before the word had ever even been uttered. The deity was trying to refrain from cowering away from the tall, straight frame of his tutor and appointed guardian Lobsang. Lobsang had dominated the halls of imperial power decades before this newest emperor had crawled out of his earthly surrogate.
Lobsang was exalted just as much as the emperor but was feared significantly more. It was his iron fist that was being used to condition the temperament and habits of a god. He was lecturing the young ruler on the proper way to stand when receiving an advisor; It was another lesson in projection. The young god spent most of his time learning how to look and act as a god should. His life was devoted to portraying a character, but in reality he wasn't an idol fit to lead his people, he was a boy wracked with anxiety.  An emperor could never appear weak or vulnerable he had to be self-conscious of every movement and every word.  Years of his life were spent studying the lifespan of the dynasties that lorded over the kingdom, and the most pervasive lesson was even emperors can die. He could hear fragments of the lecture
Always maintain eye contact never let your pupils move. If they are taller than you order them seated.”
The words were a meaningless echo to Palden. Each one he understood, but only for an instant before any comprehension was muddled by anxiety. His dim unfocused eyes stared at the sunlit window of his office as he drifted further and further away
Palden!” Lobsang snapped.
Palden quickly glanced up at his tutor.
Is something troubling you my Emperor?” Lobsang asked.
Palden stared at Lobsang a moment and took a deep breath.
Lobsang, am I really a god?”
Lobsang glared silently.
If I am truly a God and the living embodiment of the sun and all the powers of the universe why do I not have any power over these elements?” Palden asked meekly. “I tried to stop the sun from rising this morning, but I could not even slow its ascension.”
Why did you wish for the sun not to rise?” Aked Lobsang.
I did not want any lessons today,” Palden said with a tone verging on shame.
Lobsang sighed. “Palden I knew you weren't a God the first time I watched the palace servants clean shit off of you when you were a baby. You are powerful, though, but the cosmos is not where your power lies.”
What do you mean? Then what power do I have if not over the heavens and the earth?” Palden whined.
You are a symbol of your country and your people. You are their strength and their unity. Through you they act with a single purpose and through you. They march as an army. Without their Emperor they would be scattered, they would leave barbarous lives absent of purpose and devoid of glory. Do you understand Palden?”
Palden nodded his head.
Good,” Lobsang said giving a tight-lipped smile, which was rather rare for him. “Now let us continue your lessons.”
Palden accepted his role that day and in doing so forfeited his humanity. His power was only a superficial facade. He was a both a symbol and illusion. The price of keeping up the God charade was his last vestiges of his individuality. The Emperor was only a fiction, an idea for the benefit of a nation. It was a concept that was even less tangible.  Despite whatever deep desires, the human embodying that idea might have the only thing he could ever be is Emperor.

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