Behind the Red Wall. Tales of the Shen court.

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Behind the Red Wall. Tales of the Shen court.

Post by Shen » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:59 am

09 am, Shen embassy, Hutizica, Xiomera.

Zhu Qing knew that it was going to be one of those days. He was already on his third cigarette and his second cup of coffee and it wasn't even 11 yet.

The 51-year-old ambassador to xiomera, from one ancient empire to another, always felt like he had some innate sense of when something bad was going to happen. Those feelings started with something small. He forgot to set his alarm. The drive to the Embassy was marked with more traffic. Or he couldn't shake the morning funk with his usual routine of a single cigarette and a cup of coffee, having to resort to a much higher dose of the two stimuli to keep his brain working. But whenever small little things, started to go wrong it was an omen. Something far larger was just on the horizon.

The Ambassador was just sitting at his desk editing a small speech he was going to give at an electronics trade show when his premonition came to be.

As he was editing and rewriting the last few lines of the speech, his bad omen came to pass. The sound of loud voices yelling, with tones of shock and confusion filled the building. The shouting rattled the steel supports of the embassy.

The sound of high heels against wood came clicking down the hallway. The Ambassador closed his laptop and adjusted his glasses as the doors burst open. One of the younger people on staff, a recent graduate named Sun Yuan, burst through the door.

Any groggy tired feeling in the Ambassador disappeared in a moment as he stared at the young woman's face. Her face had all the color drained from his. Ghostly pale. Like staring at the surface of the Moon. Her eyes were dilated. A vivid green ring shrunk to the lowest diameter. Orbiting around black balls awestruck in there Stillness.

Her mouth was agaze. Her jaw still open from whatever had put her in this state. She took in a deep breath and closed her eyes for a moment, calming herself.

" sun… what's wrong?" the ambassador said, his face beginning to mimic her expressions. shock becoming a contagion spreading on its own.

" It's the Emperor! He's been shot!"

"What!?" The Ambassador said shooting upward, adding his voice to the cavalcade of chaos that the embassy was rapidly deteriorating into as the news spread from bureaucrats to bureaucrat.

" what happened? Is he alive?"

" I...I don't know sir. The stories were getting are Inconsistent. All we know is that he is being rushed to a hospital right now"

The Ambassador nodded. he took in one single deep breath, holding it for a moment to relax. His face grew stern. A sneer of cold command directed outwards towards the young bureaucrat as he reached down for the phone on his table.

As he typed out a phone number, he looked back up to Sun.

" Get in contact with the Cultural Ministry, Bureau of news and information, television branch. Use my identity code to get to the people in charge of the Morning News broadcast. Tell them what's happened and pass on any relevant information to them."

He picked up the phone and put it to his ear. Waiting till he heard a familiar voice, asking why she was being called at this early hour.

"Foreign minister, I'm sorry to wake you, but there is a situation developing in Xiomera "

6:31 am, heavens palace, Celestial Palace complex, shen Empire.

Shi Riue sat in the hallway outside of the east sitting room in the heavenly Palace. The most important Palace within the complex of palaces, temples and other buildings known as the Celestial Palace. For this Palace served as the home of the reigning sovereign.

The foreign minister looked down at her cell phone. Seeing if any new messages were coming in from her office or the embassy in Xiomera. None so far. The situation hadn't changed. The Emperor was in the hospital and there was no word on whether he would live or die.

The assailant was apparently in custody. While that brought the promise of Justice the foreign minister didn't think that would bring much ease of mine to the empress. Her friend dying in a hospital bed wouldn't be softened by the knowledge that the man who put him in there would also die.

Her trial of thought was interrupted when the door to the sitting-room finally opens. One of the blind servants of the Empress emerged, an old man without a single spot of hair on his head.
" the empress will see you now, "

The foreign minister put her cell phone back in her handbag, adjusted the outer layer of her black silk robe and then finally walked in.

The sitting room was a relatively small (one could even say cozy) room compared to the others found within the Heavenly Palace.

There were several couches arranged in a semi-circle around a coffee table. behind the couches were three Windows which looks out on the Grand River and the Jade Gardens directly behind the palace.

Directly opposite the semicircle was a slightly raised platform with a large lounge chair. And in that lounge chair sat a woman wearing green flowing silk. Lightly wrapping around her old and skeletal frame. A Black Crown rested on her head. The crown rose up a few inches and was held in place by a haircut. there was a short flat extension to the top, and hanging off of it was a piece of gold silk, obscuring the face of the woman.

The god empress, Wu Zhou.

Foreign minister shi dropped to her knees in front of the raised platform. Resting her rear against the back of her knees in a sign of respect towards her sovereign.

" My Empress. I apologize for waking you this early"

" If this matter is as urgent as you would have me believe we have little time for apologies minister" the woman replied, her voice coming from behind the silk sheet. An old and raspy voice. Cold and stern, as a breeze in a blizzard. Quiet but still very much in command, even after 83 years of life. 65 of which had been spent on the throne.

"So speak"

" yes, my Empress. " the minister responded as she bowed her head. “Emperor Topilpopoca has been shot”

“What?” she said in a harsh and sudden tone, that face obscured behind a silk screen twisting into a look of horror. Dilated eyes and lips pursed slightly as a shocked exhale caused ripples to form in the silk.

"... tell me what happened."

" as we briefed you yesterday your majesty, emperor Topilpopoca was meeting with a group of environmentalists. He was making a press statement in front of the Palace of flowers when an assailant pulled a gun and shot him"

The empress was quiet for a moment. She turned her head to the window staring out onto her Jade Garden. Inside where 12 large statues each depicting the 12 animals of the zodiac. From her window, she could see the top of the Towering Jade Dragon that watched over the garden.

"...damn fool. I always told him that he was most vulnerable during events like that” she shook her head and turned back to the minister

“Is he alive?”

“Yes, Empress, but...barley. He was taken to the imperial military hospital. We have no other news on his condition, but ambassador Zhu has tried to get information on his condition. That's really all we have so far."

Empress Xu, nodded in affirmation.

"... this is a most concerning development. I assume that you've authorized the ministry of culture to disseminate the information to the citizenry? "

" yes, Empress. The story is scheduled to be released at 7 am. It'll be the top story for the hour with continual coverage as more information comes in"

" Good...good… I'd like to draft a statement to be released. Topilpopoca may be a stubborn bastard, but I considered him a friend, and have for many years. I'm going to draft a statement on the issue. Have it read aloud during the broadcast.”

She returned to looking out the window, staring at the jade dragon, the symbol of the power of the monarchy, the world over.

This world was once filled with dragons. But over the years more and more of them had pasted. And in this morning one of the world's last dragons stared out the window silently praying that the world wouldn't lose another one.

7 am, sea salt coffee house, Sing Se, Shen

The morning rush was just beginning in earnest, as the clocks finally struck 7. the morning symphony played on as shoes scuffed across the floors, warm coffee flowed from one container into another, men and women quietly nibbled on their pastries and donuts between sips of hot tea. And behind all of it was the simple white noise of the television playing the morning news. Some minor story about flooding causing a delay of a few cargo trains bringing materials from the mines in the south of the country to the factories in the center and North.

The story only got a few heads paying attention to the screen. It was ultimately irrelevant to the vast majority of people. A few hours delay on a shipment of minerals wasn't going to affect anyone who wasn't working at the Mills and refineries.

But soon all the heads began to turn towards the television as the news came on.

" We have breaking news coming out of Xiomera. There has been an attempt on the life of Emperor Topilpopoca. I repeat, Emperor Topilpopoca has been shot. Reporters at the site of the incident said that he was shot from the crowd during a press event. He was rushed to the hospital where he is believed to be in critical condition. at this time there have been no official statements from the Xiomerian about the emperor's condition. The God Empress has which I will read to you right now." The woman in her pink dress unfolded the small piece of paper laying it out over the tables before reading it

" the news of the assassination attempted, against Emperor Topilpopoca, shakes me to my very core. In our years of rule, I have come to know the Emperor, as a friend, and trusted ally. His life of devout service to his nation has been a model, that many would do well to follow. I pray that heaven sees fit to open its Gates and shine blessings upon the Emperor during his roads to recovery and that its divine fury finds its way onto the coward who would strike down a leader like this. when we come across moments of struggle, it's important to remember what makes a nation strong. And one of those things is loyalty. In this time of crisis for the people of Xiomera, the Shen Empire stands beside them as their loyal Ally.

Signed her Imperial Majesty, God Empress Wu Zhou.”

The customers and vagrants in the coffee shop, all stared on with distress, at the screen.

Someone had just tried to kill one of the Dragons. And to them, it made the world outside of Shen seem a little less safe.

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Imperial Committee meeting, 9-16-2019

Post by Shen » Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:07 am

Li Kurasan sat calmly on the soft cushion of the birdcage elevator as the ancient iron machine slowly ascended the floors of the Golden Tower. The slow piece of late 19th-century technology marching upwards as it brought the first minister to the 3rd floor of the Tower.

Although the tallest building within the Celestial Palace complex had gone through numerous renovation since the installation of the elevator in 1893, none of them had gutted the birdcage elevator and replace it with something more modern. Something that wasn't so slow.

Of course, the First Minister understood why. There was a symbolic meaning to the elevator being kept in its original condition within the Golden Tower.

The tower itself has been constructed at the height of the Empire's power. The Liu Dynasty was experiencing a golden age. The nation was at its greatest territorial expanse, and it seemed like an era of prosperity that would never end. In order to celebrate that prosperity, the Emperor had ordered the construction of a massive tower. Made up of a large base and 11 equal octangular floors stacked on top of each other, the 101-meter tall building had its exterior roofing covered in thin sheets of gold, giving the tower its name.

It was a dynamic contrast from the state to the Empire was in when this birdcage elevator had been installed by foreign engineers in 1890. By then, the ones indomitable Empire had gone through centuries of decline. Its distant provinces abandoned as the political core grew weaker. The Zhou rebellion of the mid 19th century, still in living memory when this elevator had been constructed, had driven the empire to ruin. Strapped with debt and completely devastated. And yet at this time of desperation, the corruption and decadence of the bureaucracy had also reached its zenith. They had spent a fortune renovating the Golden Tower for their own convenience. Installing this elevator system so they didn't have to face the struggle of walking up three flights of stairs to the meeting room.

It's no wonder that just over 20 years later, the last Liu emperor, his first minister Chiu Xizu, and much of the upper levels of the bureaucracy were purged in the Red November coup. And the current Wu Dynasty ascended to the Heavenly throne.

That was the symbolism behind this elevator. It was meant to show what happens when the state bureaucracy, became corrupted. The price of decadence. Wasting a fortune on foreign convenience when the nation was suffering.

The First Minister thought the message had been well received. Every week ministers traveled up and down this elevator, reminded of the fate of their predecessors.

Li Kurasan though it kept a little bit of fear of abusing their power in the back of their mind. The Empress was smart to make sure the ancient machine was still in working order so it could continue to scare them.

That was what was on his mind when the Birdcage finally came to a stop on the third floor of the tower.

The third floor of the tower was divided up into two parts. One third of it was occupied by the committee chamber where the weekly meeting took place. The rest was a large open-ended room in which the Ministers would freely socialize while waiting for them all to gather to start the meeting. There was also a single door leading to the balcony that surrounded the entire third floor and overlooked the celestial Palace complex.

" First Minister. It's not like you to be the last one to the meeting" a man sitting at a table right by the entrance to the elevator replied, in a voice like a teasing whisper.

Li looked over to where the voice was coming from, seeing the wrinkled old smile, obscured only by white wisps of his unkempt facial hair.

The Energy Minister, Lin Zexu. Lovingly referred to as the father of the committee because of his advanced age, sat beside an olive-skinned man who had shaved every hair off of his head. Sonyam Gyasto, the nation's infrastructure minister was staring down at the board in front of them, a game of Go, already well underway. Gyasto was holding a black Stone in between his thumb and his middle finger, his eyes laser-focused on the board as he attempted to find life in clear defeat.

" I'm not late yet Zexu" the First Minister responded as he looked over the game

" quite the predicament you found yourself in Sonyam. Perhaps you can think of how you're going to get out of it, during the meeting"

" no need, Li" he responded, putting the black stone back in its box, before running his hands over his bald, giving off a defeated sigh." there's no way I can win. I guess that's another game to you Zexu."

The eldest gentleman amongst the three of them beamed. A proud smile crossing his face as he went to clear the board " I still got it. "

The First Minister walked away from the table and made his way to the center of the octagon.

" Alright, I'm here. Let's all head into the meeting room and get this started. We have a lot of things to cover today"

"About damn time" a snarky older voice snapped from across the room. The First Minister didn't even have to look up to know who it was coming from. The sound of gold clicking against gold obnoxiously signaled the amount of jewelry this person was wearing. The tapping of her gold-plated Talons against the furniture as she walked up behind the first Minister. And finally the overwhelming odor of her perfume.

" Minister Gao. I thought you were going to miss this meeting"

" Unfortunately for you First Minister, the meeting I had was postponed until tomorrow. Now can we get on with this meeting?"

The first Minister nodded " yes we can. Alright everyone let's head in"

The first Minister quickly walked in and took his seat followed by the other 15 individuals. Each one either a minister, in charge of one of the ministries of the government, or another important department like the central bank.

The last one to walk in was, of course Zhao Leji, commander of the Imperial Guard. Tradition dictated the captain of the Imperial Guard locked the doors to the council chamber and was allowed to silently observe the meeting in order to make sure no one was plotting against the Royal Family. After he orbited the table closing down the two doors to the trapezoid-shaped room, as well as closing the blinds to further isolate the Imperial Committee, he took his spot behind the first minister at the head of the table.

Once everyone was seated the Li Kurasan

" Alright, everyone. I call this meeting of the Imperial Committee to order. It is currently 12:04 p.m. Monday, September 15th, 2019 standard international time. Would someone please mark that down in the minutes? Thank you. let us get right into it. I yield the floor to the keeper of silver Wu Bingjing"

The first Minister sat down and the man to his right stood up.
Li Zhi was a frighteningly skinny man, dressed in simple and faded green robes, the least opulent of any of the ministers. He pushed his thick round glasses up his nose, as he pulled out a small piece of paper from the folder in front of him.

" thank you, First Minister. All right well we are halfway through the month and I can say that most of our departments are within acceptable parameters for the monthly budget proposals that were all submitted to the treasury at the beginning of the month. With the exception of Minister Sei and his Ministry of Agriculture "
Sei Weng looked up from a piece of paper he was looking at to give a confused look to the keeper of silver

" yes, you. That environmental impact report you authorized put you 7% over your monthly budget proposal. Could you please annotate your monthly budget proposal to include expenditures like that"

The agricultural Minister shook his head, giving the keeper of Silver a dismissive wave before nodding " fine fine."

"Thank you… anyway, we are currently projected to have a budget deficit of 2% of the GDP for this fiscal year. Let her bring our national debt to 28% of GDP. I would like to propose a motion, to form a committee to investigate unnecessary spending or potential Revenue opportunities to bring us back into the black for next year?"

" all in favor of the proposal?" The First Minister asked looking around the room

Everyone raised their hand

" alright motion passes. I believe you're more than capable of forming a committee, keeper Li?"
the keeper of silver knotted

" yes, I'll get right to that first Minister. All right I yield the floor to Minister of agriculture, Sei Weng"

He sat down and the man next to him stood up.

Sei Weng, dressed in his clean blue tunic and matching pants, and fiddling with his wedding ring, was an odd sight at the meeting. But he quickly began to speak
" Thank you. As the keeper of silver was....kind enough to point out I authorized an environmental impact report, regarding the expansion of irrigation in the Blue River Valley. I did this to preempt environmental protests like the ones going on in Lauchnoria. "

" oh yes and an environmental impact report. I'm sure that'll satiate the hippies" Gao Xiaoyan responded which caused some light chuckling amongst the assembled guests. Except for the captain of the Guard. He was stone-faced as ever

" order. " first Minister li quickly shouted to bring the room back to order

" Please continue minister".

Minister Sei nodded " I've been working with the Commerce Ministry to try and secure private partners to purchase the Farmland once it's been irrigated. Actually, I'm going to yield to the Commerce minister to just let him talk about that."
Dai Kun, the nation's Commerce Minister ran his hands through his graying thinning hair slicking it back before rising from his seat. That cheap smile and fake look of optimism gave him the appearance of a used car salesman as he took a look down as a gold wristwatch.

"As minister Sei said, the number one priority for the Commerce Ministry has been trying to find some willing partners for our new agricultural land development scheme. Now usually this is pretty easy but ah… you know how the winds are going right now? Environmentalism is in vogue and a lot of foreign companies are spooked. They don't want to deal with consumer boycotts if some bleeding-heart types make a big deal. But I think we'll have a return to normalcy pretty soon, especially once the media attention moves onto something else." The minister looked down and shuffle through his papers as he muttered" Xiomera really kicked the Hornet's Nest with their development plan. " quietly to himself before looking back up

" anyway once the world find something else to be angry about I suspect we'll be able to attract partners to purchase developed land"

" I think you're being too optimistic" a soft feminine voice spoke out interrupting the hopeful boasting of the minister. Lan Ping the nations interior minister was making her voice heard

" I think the push towards environmentalism is a global trend. One that we may benefit from embracing, in part” she said looking around the room to gauge the other committee members opinions. There didn't seem to meet much enthusiasm for her proposal

"... or I guess we can just continue on the path," she said letting out a sigh.
Dai Kun nodded “well with that, I think ill yield to General Chang”

The general quickly rose up after the minister sack down. Adjusting his olive uniform and his sam brown belt before taking off his hat, and held it under his right arm is he began to speak. " Thank you. As any of you who read the security briefing is aware we've had an increase in Rebel activities in the Yan province. A full 7% increase in arrests for suspected terrorism over the past months. We're stepping up security patrols into villages that we suspect our hiding dissident elements. This new security sweeps should help to dissuade anyone else from engaging in terrorist activity. Well, that's everything I have. I yield the floor to the justice minister.”

Phan Hien nodded to the general. The tall, cloaked figure, with skin tugging against his skeleton, sunken eyes surrounded by dark circles. His Shadow black robes completely hiding his skinny frame.

"... thank you, General…." He said weekly. Those inhuman almost black eyes traveling across the room "... there has been no… the Justice Ministry. I yield the floor"
As he sat down in his chair people could almost hear the creaking of his bones

Compared to the creaking skeleton who ran the Justice Ministry, the rosy-cheeked, and energetic Zhang Cheny, the minister of Education couldn't have been more different. She quickly shot up from her chair with a burst of energy and went right into speaking. Carrying the same energetic cadence that she had brought to her classrooms when she had just started her career in the bureaucracy as a teacher before eventually becoming a principal, then superintendent and eventually Minister of Education.

" Thank you, Minister! The ministry has just been compiling the results for the second trimester and it's looking good. I know I discussed in May during the first trimester break how students seem to be underperforming compared to last year. But these current trimester results show that students are back on track. I think that once they return to school in mid-October they will be prepared to finish the year out strong and have good reports to give back to their parents when New Years rolls around. Also, we have started to print this year's civil service exams. The date for the exam is set for November 18th through November 22nd. All right that's everything for me. I yield the floor"

Lin Zexu, the aging energy Minister slowly raised his rotundity up from a sitting position with an extreme amount of effort. His gruff groans made everyone uncomfortable with even a few of The Minister's motioning to get out of their chairs to help him. But a quick raising of his own hand dissuaded anyone from offering the stubborn old man any assistance

"... I pray to the gods that all of you have the good fortune of not living as long as I have. Everything becomes so hard. Anyway, I do have something to say but with the First Minister's permission, I'd prefer to Say it as a sort of closing remark. That okay with you Kurasan?”

“Yes of course Zexu. I assume you yield the floor?”

“Yes I do,” he said, as he lowered himself back into his chair, with as much effort as it took to raise himself out of it.

When the old man finally came to rest Ge Hong, the nation's Health Minister finally rose, holding a piece of paper " Thank you, minister. Well, I just got to say that I know you dismissed the anti-vaxxers that we're trying to get around the mandatory vaccination program last year as a non-issue but I have some distressing news. There have been three cases of measles in Biaking. Looks like a woman was somehow able to skirt the mandatory vaccination requirement and now her three children all have measles. They're currently isolated as a hospital, but this is what I was talking about. I would implore the Justice Ministry to increase vaccine avoidance from a misdemeanor punishable by a fine to a Class 1 offense punishable by 1 months in prison for the first offense"

"... prison sentencing for not vaccinating your kid? I mean you're the health minister so if you really think it's that much of a problem then I suppose I could issue an order to the Judiciary. " minister Hein replied in his soft crooked tone.

"I would... it's better if we put our foot down now rather than wait for a full-on pandemic"

The Justice Minister nodded " well on the recommendation of the health Ministries we will increase the punishment for vaccine avoidance"

" Thank you. Well, that's all I have to say for this week. I yield the floor"

As the health Minister sat down, Gao Xiaoyan the nation's Cultural Minister finally rose. Her vivid prussian blue robes reflected the light of the ceiling, twinkling off the delicate embroidering that produced Vivid shapes on the expensive silk robes. She rested both of her hands on the table. Her golden talons on her pinky and ring fingers tapping against the aged mahogany. The middle finger and her index finger on both her hands covered in two rings a piece. And finally one ring on each of her thumbs.

the embroidred image of a great green dragon partially covered up by the necklace she wore with a large Medallion coming down over her chest. Her gray hair, done up and held with a clip.

" Thank you. Now I'm sure you can all read the paper I submitted showing the ratings for The Falls, it looks like the ratings are up from the previous year. not unexpected considering more people own registered television sets then this time last year but it still good to note. Besides that, I've decided to expand the necessary criteria held up by the international review board. Of course, it will make it slightly more difficult for foreign movies to enter our market, but I think the added effect of having more control over what our children are watching in cinemas will help us promote orthodoxy. Besides that, the collection of Cheng dynasty artwork, from the Imperial collection has officially left the country on its planned Museum exhibition tour. Anyway, that's all I have. I yield the floor"

Lan Ping set up Justin the cultural Minister was sitting down. The nation's interior Minister cleared her throat before picking up a piece of paper " alright let's see. There has been another set of delays in the construction of the uranium mine. Some of the on-site staff were afraid of another containment breach so we pushed back the opening of what we're classifying as pits 23b, until at least November. I don't have an exact date for you on that one. Now besides that little hiccup, everything else seems to be within the acceptable margins of error for mineral production at state-owned mines. That being said I still would advise against the privatization plan for sites 21b and 21 c. I understand that's ultimately at the discretion of the Commerce Ministry, but I would just like my objection added to the minutes for this meeting before we finalize plans for privatization"

" your objection has been noted minister" the Commerce Minister replied as he rolled his eyes

" well with that I will yield the floor. It's all your minister Chin"

Chin Huang nodded, slowly extending upward from the chair. Towering above all in attendance at over 2 meters tall, his broad shoulders and enmouse frame was only slightly concealed by the loose red robes he had chosen to wear. His nose was crooked and his face scarred. The results of his early career as a resolution officer in the department of workers dispute. Little more than a government gangster breaking up strikes and intimidating organizers. But he had been effective. And he had worked his way up to the position of minister.

So when one of the most effective labor ministers in the nation history first words were " we have a problem " the whole room suddenly became very quite, and very focused.

"... last week I brought up the fact that there seems to be some organizing activity on the Sing Se docks. One of our canaries had sung about getting union pamphlets on the job. But upon further investigation, it seems like the information we got wasn't quite accurate…"

" what? Is there not organizing going on at the dock?" The minister for justice asked in his slow crackle tone

" there's organizing. It's just… it appears that whoever is behind this seems to have a lot more resources than we are used to dealing with. We've identified organizers on every dock in Sing Se and they all seem to be working towards the same goal. Strikes to shut down the whole port."
A sudden silence descended over the room. Everyone knew what could happen if a major dock strike occured. it would be impossible to cover that up in the media. And the foreign ships and their crew would certainly make sure the whole world knew what was going on.

"... how close are these people to actually organizing a strike?" General Chang spoke up considering this an issue of National Security

" Not close. We should be able to dissuade any actual action with a simple show of force. But I'm more worried about who this organization is, that they have enough people to have this many organizers, they definitely could classify as a threat. I'd ask that I be allowed assistance from the Shingz Ren, but I think it's a fair assumption that if I know about them that they know about them. I don't suppose you could convince them to pass along any useful information?" Chin said, lookinv at first minister Li

"... I can make a suggestion to the Empress. But you know damn well I have no power over them. They don't even have a representative at this table. I'm sure if they think you need to know they'll tell you"

" of course. Why keep us in the loop, we only run the goddamn country?" The Labour Minister muttered under his breath before nodding to the first minister

" well with that other way I will yield to my Chrome Dome friend over here," he said playfully motioning towards Sonam's bald head, with a smirk

Sonam Gyatso himself just rolled his eyes as he stood up " Everything I need to say is in the briefing. It's honestly just basic maintenance. So unless you'd like me to ramble on about train tracks getting repaired, or roads getting replaced I think it's better if I just yield until I have something to say" sitting down as quick as he had to stoop up

The chairman of the Imperial Bank, looked over his papers for a moment before he stood up. He was an oddly dressed man. Wearing a three-piece business suit in navy blue. A well trimmed Pencil Thin Mustache and light brown hair that almost looked red in the light of the chamber. And if his name didn't give it away his facial features made it obvious. Chairman Cartwright's mother might have been a loyal and proud shen buracract, but his father was a foreign businessman. His mixed heritage always being a point of contention with the certain members of the Imperial committee.
" thank you. I don't have much to say so I'll just say quickly. Over the next month, the bank will be gradually decreasing interest rates, causing some light controlled inflation, witch should weaken the Yuan against foreign currencies. If this works out, by the time foreign companies will begin to place manufacturing orders for their winter solstice or Christmas product line, our weaker currency will incentivize buying from us which should promote further investment. We project 6.6% GDP growth for the fourth quarter of this fiscal year based on mid-range projections from this strategy. That's all I have to say about that. I yield to foreign minister"

Shi Riue, felt like her eyes were about to snap shut when the chairman had called out her position. Honestly, she had every excuse in the world to be exhausted. The week had been hell for her. So totally and utterly filled. She nodded as she summoned up the energy to stay awake for at least another hour to get through the meeting and get back to her chambers before getting some much-needed rest.

" of course, well… what can I say that hasn't already been said on the news? I suppose I should start at the top. The earthquake that hit Zamastan has a confirmed death toll of 4300 with more expected to be found in the coming days and weeks. The Diplomatic posturing of the corporatists in Shuell has not exactly endeared many to them, but that is hardly our concern and we obviously won't be taking any action one way or another. The protests in Lauchnoria seem to be going as strong as ever. say what you want about them, but they're experts at marching around and yelling thinking it'll change the world."

She paused for a moment as a couple of light Chuckles from a few of the ministers disrupted the meeting before she continued

" Going back to the irrigation scheme proposed by the agricultural Ministry I'd prefer if I was kept in the loop for that. If protests like this break out in response to our own development projects I'd like to make sure that any of our citizens currently in Lauchnoria are not harassed. To facilitate that I'd like to have the council vote on whether we should attempt to reopen negotiations to normalize diplomatic relations with the new Lauchnorian government. Perhaps open up an official Embassy and exchange ambassadors."

" all in favor?" The First Minister said taking a vote

Everyone, except for the Cultural Minister and the Agricultural Minister raised their hands

" motion passes by a majority. Now continue"

" thank you… now going to be domestic affairs of a nation of Interest, I know there has been some discussion about skin whitening ban currently going into effect in Laeral…"

" Why are we discussing the internal issues of a foreign nation at the Imperial committee meeting?” Gao Xiaoyan snapped at the foreign minister

“What happens in that, best forgotten about state is absolutely none of our concern”

“...the north dragon and the south dragon flew together, holding up heaven as one…” cartwright said interrupting the cultural minister

“What?” she said confused

“The Dragon of the North, and the Dragon of the South holding up the sky together. Certainly, our illustrious cultural minister has not forgotten one of the greatest pieces of poetry written in our language?"

She sneered at Cartwright. Cold Venom in her words as she spoke " of course I haven't forgotten. I don't think I could ever forget the history of Laeral. How those colonists massacre the dragon of the North. Wearing his scales as War trophies. I also haven't forgotten that those colonists...the Arrivée, lead an army into our nation when we were at our weakest and demanded tribute to leave. "

Cartwright was calm as he collected his thoughts. Not wanting to say the wrong thing as the temperament between the two ministers began to boil

"...the Laeral of Saivigné is not the nation we are dealing with today. they're trying to come to terms with their past and rediscover who they are. Maybe as a nation that shares their language and whose history with them goes back Millennia we should not be so hostile" Cartwright said calmly hoping cooler heads would prevail

" of course you would stand up for that corpse of a Nation. You can't see this for the meaningless performative action it is. The north dragon is dead. The Laeral that was spoken about in that ancient poem was massacred by colonization. But I would suppose that you would have us go follow in their footsteps, and abandon Orthodoxy like your mother"

The last comment received distraught looks from the entire table. And it sparked a look of absolute Fury in the chairman

" Are you questioning my loyalty to the Empire because my father wasn't shen? How dare you. I have spent decades as a loyal servant of the empire! I have nothing to prove to a B..”

“Enough! Both of you!” Li Kurasan shout it out bringing silence to the chambers

" God's in heaven both of your acting like...Kerllian Councilors. I will not have this chamber devolve into that level of bickering childishness. Not while I am the First minister. And I would remind the cultural Minister that's the only place on this planet outside the Empire, where anyone even so much as shed a single tear for the brave men and women of the golden flag Rebellion, was the Rén people of Lareal. Your opinions are noted, but I remind you that the empress, the foreign ministery, and the rest of this committee certainly do not share them."
his green eyes turned back towards the foreign minister who had sat down during all the commotion giving her an apologetic look. She just raised her hand
" if it's all the same to you I think I'll just yield the floor I only have one more thing I wanted to talk about and I know you want to bring it up too"

The first Minister nodded and stood up, before taking a step back and turning around to the map of the world that had been painted on the wall behind him

"... yes. The attempts on Emperor Topilpopoca life. Gods in heaven help us if he dies”

he turned back towards the committee specifically focusing on the foreign minister

" I don't suppose you could tell me who would take over if he passed? “

“Not with any certainty Kurasan. Elections for the Emperor are a quick process. There are several candidates who I believe have the resources to rapidly maneuver themselves to the top position. I could get you there files to look over. Some of them would even be potentially beneficial to the Empire since they believe in maintaining the current relationship or even strengthening it further. "

"I would like that Riue. As I'm sure you are aware, the Empress is quite distraught over what is happening in Xiomera. The Union of masters is holding a special ceremony in the black temple for the Emperor recovery at 7. I'll be going, as will her excellency. We invited the Ambassador from Xiomera, I think it would speak volumes about what we think of our alliance if the entire Imperial committee was also in attendance.”

Sitting back down in his chair he let out a sigh.

" well, I think that's everything for the week. Zexu I will yield the floor to you. You can make that announcement and then I'm going to close out the meeting for this week"

Once again be profound rotundity of the Elder amongst them found itself as sending up words. With labored breath the old man good upright and looked over the table.

" I know we haven't always agreed on everything but I like to say that I have had more fun with this Imperial committee than with any Incarnation that came beforehand with your predecessors. That being said I think maybe it would be better if I went the way of those who came before all of you and resigned from the Imperial committee. This morning I handed a letter of retirement to the empress and she accepted. As soon as I find an appropriate replacement I'm going to take a long-overdue vacation and then find a nice quiet patch of land to settle down on."

The reaction across the room was mixed. There was little surprise since everyone had assumed that he would retire soon anyway. Instead, there were only mixes of hopeful smiles and indifferent expressions for those who wish he had retired a year before

" I guess it's a little early to wish you good luck since you still have to get a replacement. But I'm sure that won't take too long" the bald-headed infrastructure Minister said as he smiled upward as his friend

" No, it won't. In fact, I already have the perfect candidate in mind. But I will keep you all in suspense until it's confirmed. now I yield the floor back to you first Minister."

" well, then this Imperial committee meeting is officially adjourned. I hope I see you all tonight at the Black Temple. If not then I'll see you all next week"

The captain of the Guard who had been silently waiting throughout this whole meeting walked over to the doors and unlock them allowing the committee to slowly make their way out to the main hall. A few of them broke up into small groups and walked out onto the balcony. A couple more were chatting directly outside committee Chambers. And a few more form to queue for the elevator.

The cultural Minister gave one last Death Stare to the chairman of the Imperial Bank before the elevator finally lowered her back to the ground floor

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